The Trouble with Stock Options
41 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2003 Last revised: 28 Mar 2021
Date Written: June 2003
The trouble with options is that too many options are granted to too many people. Most options are granted below the top-executive level, and options are often an inefficient way to attract, retain and motivate executives and (especially) lower-level employees. Why, then, are options so prevalent? We discuss several explanations including changes in corporate governance, reporting requirements, taxes, the bull market and managerial rent-seeking. We also offer an alternative hypothesis that we believe explains the over-use of options and several apparent puzzles: boards and managers falsely perceive stock options to be inexpensive because of accounting and cash-flow considerations.
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